Thursday, 27 December 2012

THUNDERBIRDS ARE GONE...



So, after PATRICK MOORE, CHARLES DURNING and JACK
KLUGMAN, comes the sad news that GERRY ANDERSON, creator of
shows like FIREBALL XL5, THUNDERBIRDS and the indestructible
CAPTAIN SCARLET, has gone to that great TV studio in the sky.  Gerry
more than deserves his place in television history, but I have to confess
that I often found watching or listening to him being interviewed over
the years to be quite an uncomfortable experience.


The reason for this is that Gerry himself seemed uncomfortable
about being associated with kids programmes;  appeared frustrated
by it - to resent it, in fact, and spoke with apparent reluctance about his
involvement in the cult shows which had made him a household name.
He always went to great pains to point out that it was never his ambition
to produce entertainment for children, and that his shows were merely a
showcase to demonstrate that he was capable of far more 'respectable'
and prestigious projects, if only given half a chance by any movie
moguls who might be watching.


Perhaps he was just painfully shy, but he more often than not came
across as being embarrassed by his classic puppet programmes and
only too eager to distance himself from them, although never quite able
to escape their shadow completely.  After all, they were his main (maybe
only) claim to fame, so it's understandable if he decided that he might as
well try and salvage something from the situation - exploit it (however
reluctantly) until something better came along.


At least that's how it seemed (to me) for most of his career.  Then
something happened, and I can only hazard a guess as to what.  In later
years, he seemed to finally give in and accept the cards that fate had dealt
him;  seemed to come to terms with his situation and realise that there was
no shame in creating magic and enchantment that kids would remember
for the rest of their lives.  He began to relax and accept the high regard in
which he was held as his due;  see that the gratitude expressed by adults
whose childhoods he had enriched as genuine expressions of respect
and affection, as opposed to fawning flattery by a bunch of geeks
and freaks who simply couldn't grow up.


I read his autobiography a couple of years ago and, in my opinion,
it didn't always portray him in an entirely favourable light, 'though he
was presumably unaware of the negative aspects he revealed about him-
self and his personality.  However, now is not the moment to dwell on the
human failings that all are heir to;  rather, it is a time to celebrate the life
and achievements of a talented, creative man, whose triumphs touched
the hearts and minds of a great many children and adults, and will
doubtless continue to do so for a very long time to come.

To paraphrase LADY PENELOPE: "Oh, Gerry...well done!"

In Memoriam: Gerry Anderson - 1929 - 2012.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Most of Gerry Anderson's shows were syndicated in the US, so their distribution was somewhat spotty. A lot of Americans never saw them, or they saw some but not others. Fireball XL5 actually aired on a nation-wide network (NBC), so you would think it would be the one that most Americans remember. But, somehow, Thunderbirds seems to be the most widely known and remembered in the US (and that was the case even before it was rerun on a national network in the 1990s). As for Anderson's apparent embarrassment at being associated with children's shows, I wonder if that was why his later, live-action series (UFO and Space:1999) were so grim and violent. Maybe he was trying to branch out and serve notice that these were intended for adults. For that matter, IIRC, Captain Scarlet was considerably grimmer and more violent than the earlier marionette shows.

Kid said...

Some interesting points. Regarding Gerry's seeming embarrassment - when watching him on TV, I always used to wish that he'd just relax and accept his place in the scheme of things, which was pretty high in most people's estimation. Adam West, despite Batman probably shutting doors for him, career-wise, always seemed to have a fond affection for the character, and I wish Gerry could have followed suit - which he eventually did in later years. However, watching him in earlier interviews was often a bit cringe-inducing, as he gave the impression that he was admitting to a shameful secret which he'd prefer people not to know about. I'm perhaps slightly overstating the case, but not by much.

Anyway, I've got the Supercar, Fireball, Stingray, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, and Joe 90 DVD boxed sets, so I'll sit down and relive some childhood memories at the earliest opportunity. Thanks for commenting.

Jim Jenkins said...

Excellent post, and you're right about him looking embarrassed in interviews. How about showing us your Gerry Anderson toys from the sixties? I used to have most of them and it'd be great to see them again.

Kid said...

If your name's really Jim Jenkins, I'll eat the next yellow snow I see (well, as long as it's mine).

I was thinking of including some photos of my toys with this post, but didn't want to overload it with images. I'll see what I can do.

TwoHeadedBoy said...

RIP to Gerry, this news NEARLY ruined Christmas (until I stopped to consider that life goes on and all that).

Probably going to have a Thunderbirds Are Go!/Thunderbird 6 double-marathon session tomorrow night, it's the only way.

Kid said...

I've had both of those movies on DVD for years and still haven't found time to watch them. Really must get around to it one day.

John Pitt said...

I too would like to add my condolences after the loss of the GENIUS Gerry Anderson. I was so sad when I heard the news as it seemed like I had known him for so long. I have loved his programmes from Torchy onwards ( I'm too young to remember Twizzle!! ) My very favourire was Captain Scarlet,but they were ALL great tv .

Kid said...

I may have seen Four Feather Falls, and maybe even Twizzle and Torchy, but the first one I actually remember seeing was Supercar, then all the rest in sequence.